By Denhang Bosai , Deputy Director of IPR
Bandh Culture is a Scourge- It Retards Development, yes the repeated threat of bandh call by one organisation or the other in our state is creating a morass of confusion in the mind of the ordinary people who are already burdened with multifarious problems both big and small. I always maintain that if a bandh can indeed solve the nagging problems of the state, let there be a bandh call every single day. But does a bandh call actually yield even a semblance of a tangible solution or result? No, it only creates more problems than solving them.
In the past the bandhs called or imposed by some well known and obscure organisations had become so painfully frequent in our underdeveloped infant state Arunachal Pradesh that I had every reason to believe that my article on bandh culture would be coinciding with some bandhs or the other in the state. Sadly these bandh calls conveniently termed as ‘democratic’ by a minuscule few may be a medium of protest but for the vast majority of the people the bandh is the most dreaded and frightening 5-letter word that sends chills through their spine. Ours is a young state and every minute is valuable for us to make efforts to catch up with the other more developed states of the Northeast and the country. The planning for overall development of our infant state is at a nascent stage and unwanted interruptions like bandh calls only retard the state’s development. The sooner we all realise this glaring fact, the better for our tomorrow.
There are no two opinions about the fact that the bandh culture is a scourge for any society as it creates more problems than solving them. Bandhs not only affect the daily life’s vicissitudes of the ordinary people but they seldom yield any tangible result. Incidentally, there are many other ways of registering a protest. Unfortunately in Arunachal Pradesh, it has become a sort of fashion to call a bandh at the slightest pretext, conveniently ignoring all the other available means of protest. A well known company in Japan, the Toyota Company’s workers work for extra hours or overtime to protest against any in-justice meted out to its workers. Bandhs cause inconvenience not only to the common people but also to the organisers of such bandh calls. Interestingly, after each bandh call, the organisers claim their ‘mission’ being peaceful and successful. How can they get away so lightly by terming their bandh call as peaceful when they had caused so much agony, anxiety and destroyed the peace of mind of the people who loathe such bandh calls for obvious reason? Of course, their claim of the bandh being successful may have some substance as there is no dearth of people in our state who look for excuses to shun work. But absence of these insincere people from work must never be construed as a support to the bandh. They do it out of fear. Today, if one flips through the pages of the morning newspapers, he finds news of a bandh being called somewhere or the other in the state. However, every one will admit that it is the capital Itanagar bandh that has the greatest impact on the life of the people because being the capital; it is the seat of planning and decision-making. People from the districts go there to seek redressal to their problems and most of them stay in the hotels, spending their hard-earned money. Bandhs only compound their problems and predicaments. If the organisers of bandhs realize this truth, the collective blessings of those who suffer during bandhs will catapult them to unimaginable height of success and glory.
The habitual bandh organizers must realise that those states in India that do not believe in the bandh culture have forged ahead while the states plagued by this abominable malaise have been left behind, high and dry in the rat race. Take the case of West Bengal where scores of trade unions tend to oppose any or every decision of the government and call bandhs during the long CPIM regime. Where was West Bengal before and where it stands today? The bandh culture has pushed the state backward. However, thankfully Mamta Didi has realized the futility of bandh calls and her state West Bengal is free from this bandh culture, at least for now. In the Northeast, the bandh culture is synonymous with the eldest sister Assam. There the bandh culture has become a deep-rooted problem and even God may fail to undo it or do away with it. The bandh has become a culture, a system there. In fact, today, Assam is known more for her bandhs than the Bihu, tea, oil or coal. Things have come to such a pass that if some one says that there is an Assam Bandh, it is no longer news. On the other hand if it is otherwise, it is a big news. Such bandhs not only cripple Assam’s economy, but cause untold sufferings and miseries to the people of the other Northeastern states as most of them are dependent on Assam for almost every thing and also Assam is the gateway to all the states in the Northeast.
Disgustingly, Arunachal Pradesh has very successfully imported this unwanted bandh culture from Assam and it is undoubtedly going to cripple the overall development of the state and push the people to an unfathomable pit of self destruction. It is high time the people of the state realized the negative impacts of bandh culture before Arunachal Pradesh become another Assam wherein even if she wants to get rid of this bandh culture, she cannot.
Those people in our state who derive sadistic pleasure by seeing the ordinary people suffer in silence during bandhs should know that the bandh culture is akin to insurgency problem. They both only bring pains and sufferings for the society at large. A place hit by uncalled for frequent bandhs can never develop and prosper so also a place faced with insurgency problem can never make any headway in any sphere. In Arunachal Pradesh, leaders of all hues claim that tourism is the future of the state and that tourism will turn to be the numero-uno money-spinner. But amidst these frequent and unwarranted bandh calls if we believe that tourism will flourish in the state then we are living in a fool’s paradise. Tourism can develop only in places where there is peace and order. Tourism industry in places like Kashmir, Darjeeling etc has suffered setbacks due to bandhs.
Before calling a bandh, the organisers should spare a thought about the daily wage-earner, the vegetable and fruit vendor, the pregnant woman who needs immediate medical care, the sick person, the student who is to go for admission or write examination, the foreign tourist whose RAP has expired and the ordinary man who is not even remotely connected with the reason(s) for the bandh called by some unscrupulous organisations. Even though, every body is aware that the bandh culture is the source of human sufferings, it is rather intriguing as to why some people are bent on using it as a weapon to protest. Let us together nip this dreaded bandh culture in the bud before it grows to uncontrollable proportion. The government needs to take urgent steps in evolving a mechanism to arrest this burgeoning menace including considering an option to ban bandhs by seeking legal opinions from legal experts. Let us make Arunachal Pradesh a bandh-free state. Bandh culture is our state’s nemesis. Nobody gains from a bandh call. It only brings sufferings. Today, we have a young and visionary Chief Minister in Pema Khandu who is efficiently backed by a Cabinet consisting of senior leaders and young faces; a perfect blend of experience and exhuberence of the youth. The Chief Minister has already prepared a road map for development of Arunachal Pradesh. Let us not distract him by calling bandhs. All contentious issues if any should invariably be hammered out through a meaningful dialogue. Together we can do it.